April 15, 2020

You might need a haircut

April 15, 2020
The Hustle
TOGETHER WITH
The Ascent

Even the lawyers among us aren’t immune to taking a more, um, casual approach to WFH attire. Dennis Bailey, a judge in Florida, pleaded with legal eagles to keep it professional during Zoom hearings: “One male lawyer appeared shirtless and one female attorney appeared still in bed, still under the covers. And putting on a beach cover-up won’t cover up [that] you’re poolside in a bathing suit.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to find a pair of pants with a button. Haven’t donned one of those in weeks.

A Whole New ’Do

Everyone’s buzzing about virtual haircuts

Last month, Greg Isenberg was a tech entrepreneur who sold a messaging app to WeWork. Then, on April 5, he launched You Probably Need a Haircut — and within a day, he was the new master stylist of the virtual haircut economy.

For the legions of people kicking themselves for not scheduling a hair appointment in early March, the day of reckoning has come: It’s finally time to stop avoiding it. You have to cut your hair.

Popular haircut scissors are selling out, hair-dye panic-buying has begun, and companies are racing to crimp and curl a virtual haircut industry that basically did not exist 3 weeks ago.

Sorry, toilet paper: The corona-conomy has entered its hair-care phase

You Probably Need a Haircut has a simple pitch: For a starting rate of $18, you can pick from around 2 dozen freelance barbers who will walk you through the ins and out of the self-cut on video chat.

Rest asheared, YPNAH isn’t the only option. For a modest fee, regular salons are tangling with Zoom and Skype appointments, too. 

Not everyone is reaching for their safety scissors and nervously whispering “You’ve got this” into the mirror. 

  • Las Vegas police are jumping on a special exception that lets them get cuts at HQ.
  • In Virginia, stylists have been allowed to drop in for house calls as long as they don’t come inside — meaning that all of your neighbors can marvel at the progression of your comb-over from your front steps. 

And if all else fails, try a family member: These days, even Daniel Day-Lewis is method-acting as a surprisingly effective barber.

Don’t hide behind your pandemic cuts

Some are opting to buzz it all off. Others are letting it grow. But whatever you choose, wear it with pride — 2020 is sure to surpass the 1980s as the most disastrous era in American hairstyles. 

Smile: You’re about to be part of history.

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In case of corona overload…

Feeling a little overwhelmed by all the coronavirus news? We got you. We’re highlighting some interesting non-corona stories here. If you like this mix of items, let us know by hitting the smileys at the bottom of the email.

  • Bad Bunny was just anointed the world’s biggest pop star. The Puerto Rican rapper tops Bloomberg’s new monthly ranking of the top 25 pop stars on planet Earth. 
  • What 3 tech honchos learned from pissing off their superfans. Protocol talked to execs at Sonos, Plex, and Reddit to find out what they learned from a few past product controversies.
  • They got caught with their hands in the crypto cookie jar. Google has removed 49 sketchy extensions from its web store that were posing as legit crypto wallet services.
  • Intrigue at Quibi. The buzzy mobile video startup is not moving ahead with a planned show about Snapchat and its founder, Evan Spiegel.
  • Facebook wants you to keep close friends closer. Its R&D division made an experimental app for keeping tabs on close friends with your Apple Watch.
Keep Calm and Carry On

A major moment for digital mental health services

We’re stress-baking and stress-eating. People are calling an unnerving recipe video of a strawberry pie a work of art. Doomscrolling has entered the lexicon (as people who get paid to bring you news, trust us — take a break once in a while). 

These are tense times. They’re also a pivotal period for businesses that offer virtual mental health services.

It’s about more than mindfulness

Companies offering remote care are seeing a surge in demand. Meditation apps like Headspace rolled out free services to users and health care providers to help them cope.

  • Ginger, which focuses on on-demand coaching and video therapy, sells services to companies who pay for workers to get access. The company saw a nearly 50% increase in the number of active users in February and March compared with the preceding 6 months.
  • A psychiatrist who leads mental health efforts for the insurer Kaiser Permanente says 90+% of mental health visits at Kaiser now take place virtually.

More upstarts are entering the field each day: The wellness company Hims & Hers introduced group therapy sessions last week. 

And on Tuesday, Frame launched a mental health platform that includes a library of workshops focused on common questions and problems. (“What’s the difference between stress and anxiety?” and “how to keep from spiraling” are just a few examples.)

For providers, the shift hasn’t been so calm

Regulatory hurdles and privacy concerns (like the giant jerks who trolled virtual AA meetings) aren’t going away anytime soon. But if these companies can prove themselves at such an important moment, they might help show that telemedicine really is here to stay.

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Protein-Folding Pros

Faster than a speeding supercomputer: Volunteers amp up a disease-fighting project

Hitting the PlayStation 3 seems like it would be the peak of any app developer’s career.

That’s precisely what happened with Stanford University’s [email protected] back in 2007. 

The project’s name makes it sound like you’d get high scores for doing laundry (actually sort of a brilliant idea nowadays), but we’re talking a different kind of folding. The folding of proteins — and the diseases that arise when the folding goes haywire.

To crunch the data, [email protected] uses distributed computing — AKA the machines of an A-Team of volunteers who install its software.

As Ars Technica reported, the jump to the PS3 brought in 15m users. But the project’s PS3 run ended 5 years later, and in January, it was down to just 30k users.

Fast forward to the Bad Times…

… and [email protected] went freakin’ WILD. 

Its user base swelled to 400k in March, and added another 300k after that.

Teamwork really does make the dream work: The whole project is now more powerful than the top 500 supercomputers — combined. (!)

Why is protein folding so hot right now?

Because the project can help researchers understand the proteins on the coronavirus’s surface. It also helped that the recent end of another distributed-computing project — [email protected], which was all about hunting aliens — left people with processing power to spare.

Tracking down ET may be out of reach, but at this rate, understanding COVID-19 won’t be.

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Who is the ‘Warren Buffet of the internet’?

Andrew Wilkinson. 

And his holding company, Tiny, is the online Berkshire Hathaway.

Back in 2007, Andrew started buying up “wonderful internet businesses” to hold and grow forever. Now, Tiny’s businesses do high 8-figures and employ close to 400 people across 20 companies.

The Oracle of the Internet is teaching us the tricks of the Tiny trade

On the latest episode of My First Million, Andrew drops some fascinating nuggets of wisdom, like:

  • His stupid simple checklist for buying a business,
  • Why he wants to buy more “New Zealand-like” companies, 
  • The 3 industries he’s most bullish on today,

And a whole lot more, from his favorite advice to give and top book recommendations to his biggest failures.

Sam says this is the best ep of MFM yet. We think so, too.

🎧 Listen to the podcast here: Apple / Spotify / Google  🎧

Listen here →
Very Good News

Pet owners find new ways to connect with vets, trainers, and each other

Here’s a bit of good news: Pet shelters across the country are reporting huge increases in animal adoptions. Seems everyone wants a Good Boy to ride out the pandemic with.

But like so many other things, pet care looks different these days

At many veterinary clinics, the doctor will see your pet… but not you. Technicians retrieve animal patients at curbside check-ins and send their owners away.

In New York, clinics are considered an essential business and remain open, but Bond Vet recently launched a veterinary telehealth service for routine matters. Since March 24, the company has conducted 85 virtual visits.

It’s a good thing Fido doesn’t care about your screen-time report

There’s something inherently social about pet ownership, and pet-focused businesses are finding new ways to make fetch happen… from a distance.

  • Treat and toy purveyor BarkBox hosts virtual “Squeakeasy” comedy events.
  • Petco and PetSmart canceled obedience classes, but have telehealth services, at-home grooming tutorials, and remote training sessions rolled out or in the works. (Controversially, the 2 chains continue to offer pet grooming.)
  • Boris & Horton, a dog-friendly eatery in NYC, holds online trivia nights with themes like “Schit-tzu Creek.”
  • In Missouri, the Columbia Equestrian Center started taking 2 miniature horses, Mac and Chalupa Batman, to graze in yards and cheer up kids stuck at home. After the local health department shut down the operation, the stablehands pivoted to offering the pony program via Zoom.
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The Hustle Says

If you find Amazon overwhelming, you’re gonna dig what Becca just found. This nifty little browser extension (called Lustre) analyzes your Amazon search to find you the best product at the best price.

The future of ABM is ABX. If that sentence didn’t make sense to you, you’re gonna wanna check out this Cheat Sheet from Marketo to learn what it means.*

PayPal just paid $4B to save you money. How? By acquiring Honey, the free browser extension that instantly finds you coupons while online shopping and automatically adds available discounts to your cart. Download it for free here.*

*This is a sponsored post.

Snippets

💪 Practice your piledrivers, because pro wrestling counts as an essential business in Florida.

📺 It’s an unusual debut day for Peacock, NBCUniversal’s new streaming service. The pandemic delayed most of its original shows — they probably won’t be ready until next year.

🔈Longing for the sounds of your noisy office? This site recreates them for you.

✅ Running out of things to do while isolated with your partner? Here are 30 ideas.

Want snippets like these in your browser? Download our Chrome extension here.

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Today’s email was brought to you by Harris Pray-Moore (Virtual Stylist), Nick “Bald and Proud” DeSantis, Michael Waters, Caroline Dohack, Bobby Durben, and Meg Furey-Marquess.

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